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04 June 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Charl Devenish
Prof Cathryn Tonne
Air pollution not only costs lives, it costs money too. Pictured is Prof Cathryn Tonne presenting a guest lecture on air pollution at the Bloemfontein Campus.

Health effects associated with ambient air pollution (AAP) have been well documented. Subsequently, the relationship between pollution and financial outcomes have also become a focus for case studies globally. An Environmental Research journal article revealed that “low and middle-income countries are disproportionately affected by the global burden of adverse health effects caused by AAP”. 

A high price to pay

In 2012, high concentrations of air pollution caused 7.4% of all deaths, costing South Africa up to 6% of its Gross Domestic Product. According to the recent International Growth Centre study conducted by senior University of Cape Town researchers, this is a direct consequence of the country’s heavy dependence of fossil fuels, a source of health-damaging air pollution and greenhouse pollutants.

Stunted human and economic growth

These South African statistics are attested to by Prof Cathryn Tonne who recently presented a guest lecture on air pollution which was hosted by the University of the Free State (UFS) Business School.

“Air pollution can affect economic development through several pathways, and health is an important one. Air pollution is linked to shorter life expectancy, chronic disease, asthma exacerbation and many other health outcomes that result in absenteeism from work and school. These have large direct costs to the health system.” 

Prof Tonne says that air pollution exposure in children is linked to reduced cognitive development, with important impacts on human capital. As a result, children are not reaching their full potential in terms of neurodevelopment, which has an effect on their income prospects and the economy as a whole. 

Resolving a looming disaster

Technology may be employed to radically clean the air. Cities need to lead in the reduction of air pollution by promoting renewable energy, using active transport such as walking or cycling, and investing in infrastructure to make this safe and attractive. 

With researchers playing a major role in strengthening the case for aggressive air pollution control, the government needs to implement policies in order to control sources of air pollution. This global health and economic issue also requires individuals and communities to play their part to improve air quality.

News Archive

UFS acts fast in expelling students for serious misconduct
2014-02-22

On the evening of Monday 17 February 2014, Muzi Gwebu, a fifth-year student in BCom Economics, while walking on the Bloemfontein Campus of the UFS, was side-swiped by a vehicle driving recklessly through campus. He followed the vehicle where it stopped at one of the residences and approached the two occupants. A confrontation started and he was assaulted by one of the occupants of the vehicle.

Gwebu sustained minor injuries and was immediately assisted by the university’s residence life division. He lodged a complaint of assault at the South African Police Service (SAPS).

The senior leadership of the UFS is shocked and outraged at this blatant act of violence against one of its students. The Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Prof Jonathan Jansen, says: “We regard this incident in a very serious light and we worked closely with the SAPS throughout the night to identify and locate the perpetrators who were driving with false number plates.”

With the assistance of the student leadership in one of the residences, the owner of the vehicle and his companion were traced this morning.

The two students were immediately handed to SAPS by the university’s Protection Services and were arrested on charges of attempted murder, assault and driving with false number plates.

In addition to the criminal investigation by the SAPS, the university is also conducting an urgent and formal investigation into the incident.

The university has offered Gwebu full counselling and support until he is fully recovered.

“It is sad and disappointing that, after so much progress with the social transformation of the UFS, such a horrific incident could have occurred. It is pleasing, however, that across the board, all our students condemned these vicious acts. The students, if found guilty in the criminal and institutional investigations, will definitely not be allowed to study at the University of the Free State,” he said.

END

Statement by Dr Willy Nel, Residence Head of Armentum men’s residence

The Residence Head, Residence Committee and all residents of Armentum male residence on the Bloemfontein Campus unequivocally distance themselves from any behaviour which does not breathe the letter and spirit of the University of the Free State's vision of Human Embrace and Academic Excellence. We work tirelessly to upend traditions that are contradicting this vision. Therefore we add our voice to those who condemn the incident in which ex-residents allegedly assaulted a pedestrian who is also a student of our institution. We express our support to and confidence in the university's and other processes to find justice in this matter.

Dr Willy Nel
Residence Head: Armentum



Media release
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Tel: +27(0)51 401 3422
Cell: +27(0)83 645 2454
E-mail: news@ufs.ac.za

 

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